Miranda rights, also known as the Miranda warning, are an essential aspect of the United States criminal justice system. These rights are designed to protect individuals who are in police custody or under interrogation, but they aren’t always required to be read to someone. Understanding Miranda rights is crucial for anyone, whether they’ve been accused of a crime or not, to ensure they exercise their legal protections effectively.

The significance of Miranda rights

Miranda rights are related to the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects individuals from self-incrimination. These rights guard against coercive tactics that can influence how a person responds in an interaction with law enforcement. The term “Miranda” comes from the 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona, which ruled that a person cannot be interrogated and anything a person says cannot be used against them in a court of law unless the Miranda warning has been read or the rights have been waived.

The components of Miranda rights

Now that you know where the rights originated, let’s dive into what’s included and what they mean.

The typical Miranda warning includes:

  1. The right to remain silent: Individuals have the right to refuse to answer questions posed by law enforcement.
  2. The right to an attorney: Individuals have the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning. If they do not have the ability to hire an attorney, one will be appointed for them.
  3. The warning that anything they say can and will be used against them in court.

When Miranda rights apply

Miranda rights must be read in situations where an individual is in police custody and subject to interrogation. Custody refers to situations where a person’s freedom of movement is restrained or in which a person is not permitted to leave. An important distinction to make is that the Miranda rights always apply, but they aren’t always required to be presented by law enforcement. That means you can always exercise your right to remain silent, whether you are formally arrested or simply approached by law enforcement. You may be required to identify yourself in some circumstances, but that is your only legal obligation.

Legal experts like Lahood Norton Law Group recommend, regardless of the situation, saying as little as possible and hiring an attorney to represent you during questioning and any subsequent proceedings.

“It is our opinion that if you are even contacted, seek counsel by a criminal defense lawyer or firm before you engage or set up a meeting or talk or give any information about whatever situation they’re investigating,” LaHood Norton said. “There is a difference between being a witness and being a target, and you may not know which one you are when law enforcement contacts you for information.”

How to exercise Miranda rights

Failure to provide Miranda warnings under the necessary conditions or continuing interrogation after a person has invoked their rights may result in the exclusion of incriminating statements or evidence obtained as a result of the violation. Law enforcement will likely be conscious of this to help their investigation, but everyone should be vigilant in taking the following actions, whether they are reminded of their rights or not: 

  1. Remain silent: Exercise the right to remain silent and refrain from answering any questions without the presence of an attorney. Even innocent statements can be misinterpreted or used against the individual.
  2. Request an attorney: Clearly and unequivocally request the presence of an attorney. Law enforcement officers must cease questioning once a person invokes their right to an attorney.
  3. Stay calm: It’s essential to remain calm and cooperative during interactions with law enforcement. Asserting one’s rights respectfully and calmly is key to ensuring those rights are respected.

If you are investigated for, arrested for, or charged with a felony or misdemeanor, the defense lawyers at LaHood Norton Law Group can remind you of your rights and help you navigate the complicated legal process. By hiring an attorney, you are not admitting guilt but rather adding an extra layer of protection to which you are entitled by the U.S. Constitution.

“If you have found yourself on the wrong side of the law, up against the intimidating criminal justice system, you are probably feeling anxious and overwhelmed,” LaHood Norton Law Group says. “Whether this is your first run-in with the law or not, you have a lot at stake. Don’t jeopardize your future and your freedom.”


LaHood Norton Law Group is highly experienced in criminal defense law and employs former prosecutors who are familiar with both sides of the courtroom. If you believe you have a case requiring legal representation, visit LaHood Norton Law Group online or call (210) 797-7700 to schedule a free and private consultation.